21 Savage's lawyer says the rapper recently released music with lyrics 'condemning the behavior of immigration officials'

By Robyn Merrett and Sarah Michaud
February 05, 2019 10:10 PM
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21 Savage
| Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty

21 Savage‘s legal team — as well as JAY-Z — is firing back at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention of the rapper while also addressing the fan speculation that he was targeted due to a recent anti-ICE rap.

“Many have speculated as to possible ulterior motives for his arrest and detention, including that he released music five days prior to his arrest by ICE, which included new lyrics condemning the behavior of immigration officials for their detention of children at the border,” the 26-year-old rapper’s legal team alleged in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

In the song “A Lot” from his album I Am > I Was, 21 Savage, born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph raps “Been through some things so I can’t imagine my kids stuck at the border/ Flint still need water/ People was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.”

21 Savage was taken into custody on Sunday by ICE, which claims he overstayed his 12-month 2005 visa.

The statement released by 21 Savage’s legal team Tuesday addressed those claims as well as confirming the rapper was, in fact, born in Britain.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph was born in the United Kingdom. Mr. Abraham-Joseph arrived legally in the United States at the age of 7,” the statement explained.

21 Savage
| Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty

“He remained in the United States until 2005, when he departed for approximately one month to visit the United Kingdom. He returned to the United States under a valid H-4 visa on July 22, 2005.”

An H-4 visa is issued to immediate family members, spouses or children under the age of 21.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad. Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s legal status expired through no fault of his own.”

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph, like almost two million of his immigrant child peers, was left without immigration status as a young child with no way to fix his immigration status.”

His lawyers argued that he should be considered a Dreamer, the name used to describe children who were brought to this country illegally by their parents and were offered visas under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy.

His legal team went on to argue 21 Savage “has no criminal convictions or charges under state or federal law and is free to seek relief from removal in immigration court.”

“ICE provided incorrect information to the press when it claimed he had a criminal conviction.”

An ICE spokesman previously said 21 Savage “was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia,” in a statement to Fox 5 Atlanta.

21 Savage
| Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has three US Citizen children, a lawful permanent resident mother and four siblings that are either US Citizens or lawful permanent residents. He has exceptionally strong ties in the United States, having lived here since he was in the first grade. Because of his long residence in the United States and his immediate relatives, Mr. Abraham-Joseph is eligible to seek Cancellation of Removal from an Immigration Judge,” 21 Savage’s lawyers stated.

The statement also says that 21 Savage was “placed into deportation proceedings AFTER his arrest, he was not in deportation proceedings prior to this detention by ICE.”

At this time, 21 Savage is being held without bond. However, “by statute, bond should be granted by ICE when there is no flight risk or a danger to the community,” according to his lawyers.

21 Savage’s legal team says the rapper is not a flight risk or a “danger to the community.”

2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
Post Malone and 21 Savage at the MTV Video Music Awards
| Credit: John Shearer/Getty

“ICE has the ability to set bond and conditions of release on cases exactly like this. ICE routinely grants bond to individuals in Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s circumstances, specifically individuals who have overstayed a prior valid visa and have relief from deportation under federal law.”

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has a pending U visa with the USCIS,” a U Visa is one provided to victims of crime.

“The U visa was filed as a result of being the victim of a deadly shooting in 2013. That visa was filed in 2017 and remains pending. When granted, the U visa will afford him lawful status in the United States. Generally, ICE has recognized a pending facially valid U visa as a basis to delay removal proceedings and release individuals from custody.”

“We are unaware of why ICE apparently targeted Mr. Abraham-Joseph, but we will do everything possible to legally seek his release and pursue his available relief in immigration court.”

21 Savage’s new legal team has begun work at the behest of JAY-Z and his label Roc Nation, who hired the team to “get him out and figure out what happened” attorney Alex Spiro told NBC News on Friday.


Also on Tuesday, 21 Savage’s manager gave an update on how the rapper is doing on Twitter.

“Just got off phone wit Savage… he is in lockdown for 23hrs of the day no tv or any communications besides our 10 min phone calls… everything I’ve told him that has happening made him happy & makes this time fly by thank y’all for the support.”